It was 12:10 a.m., Thursday, July 10, 2003. Daddy had passed away. We stayed with him until the funeral home came to get his body. We even stayed in the room while his body was being loaded onto the gurney by the funeral home attendant. I knelt beside Mother holding her hand. Darla stood at the end of her cot, humminng. It was a special moment.
It was about 2:00 a.m. when they came to get Daddy’s body. Because Mother was so weak, we really wanted to just keep her in the room until morning. The hospital was unwilling to let us do that so we had to leave. We took Mother back to the nursing home and I stayed with her the rest of the night. Let me tell you nursing homes are noisy places during the night. Again, that is another post for another day.
That next morning after helping Mother eat breakfast, I began contacting family members and doing all the many things that needed to be done to finish preparing for Daddy’s funeral. My list seemed to be huge, even though we had already spent a lot of time on preparations.
As I was walking down the hall of the nursing home, one of the nurses stopped me and offered his condolences. The then he said something I will never forget. He said, “The hardest part is over. You have already come through the most difficult part of this process.” I smiled sweetly, nodded and agreed. However, on the inside I was thinking, “You have no idea what you are talking about. Have you seen my ‘to do’ list? It doesn’t seem less difficult to me!”
However, later in the day, as I drove to Mother and Daddy’s house to get some things, I realized he was right. The nurse was right. Because Daddy’s ‘hardest part’ was over, mine was as well. The heaviness was gone. I was exhausted, running on pure adrinaline, but without the burden of Daddy’s anguish and impending death, my emotions were more calm than before, enabling me to look at the things before me as necessary tasks, not giant weights. It is difficult to put into words, the things I felt and didn’t feel that day. Things were just different that before his death. The nurse’s words now made sense to me.